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Part Four: So You Want to be a Space Advocate?

Posted September 17, 2016 by Chuck Black
Why the Activism of the 1970’s US Pro-Space Movement Didn’t Work

                   By Chuck Black

An earlier version of this article was presented at the 65th International Astronautical Congress, which was held in Toronto, Ontario from September 29th – October 3rd, 2014.

Its thesis is that successful advocacy requires:

  • Strong media skills able to define the problem, craft a compelling narrative and define appropriate solutions
  • A mechanism to move the narrative forwards by solving the defined problem using those previously identified solutions.
  • A funding network willing to pay for the costs associated with the campaign.

The question of whether or not those three conditions apply in our current aerospace and space environment is open for debate.

_________________________________________________________________________________

One of the best places to learn about space activism is the 1970’s US pro-space movement.

Might have been better titled “Reaching for the government funded and academic tenure track frontier.” but still required reading for background on advocacy organizations such as the National Space Society (NSS), the Planetary Society and others. Michaud notes that most of those organizations grew out of the decline in US civil space spending after the Apollo Moon missions ended in the early 1970’s, which sparked the creation of organizations advocating “space exploration” and science, tied to increased educational and government funding (often for a small series of specific projects) and which were mostly wrapped around university campuses, as a way to solve Earthbound problems. Many of the organizations ended up shrinking, collapsing or combining with others after the space shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. Others, such as the advocacy for multi-billion dollar space based solar power satellites as outlined in the April 6th, 2016 post, “More Space Based Solar Powered Shenanigans,” continue to this day. Graphic c/o Amazon.

As outlined in “Reaching for the High Frontier: The American Pro-Space Movement, 1972-1984” by Michael A. G. Michaud [i], the era saw the wind-down of the Apollo program and the ramp up of the space shuttle amidst an increasingly tight budget and the beginnings of an advocacy community convinced that “space holds answers to such real-world problems such as economic growth, environmental degradation, international tension and the threat of nuclear war.” [ii]

The final preface of the book was put together just before the tragic explosion of the space shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986. It therefore serves also as a last gasp of the optimism of the Apollo era and an endpoint for the childhood of those who considered themselves to be the “Children of Apollo.” [iii]

But the key activists of this era were essentially either “citizens,” or “rebels” as defined in part three of this document, who articulated a vision of the favored outcome and put the issue on the public agenda for discussion. Missing from this discussion were the “societal change agents” and the “reformers” who nurture any emerging cultural consensus and bring about real institutional change.

The social change agent and the reformer marching into real danger. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (third from left) with the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (right) at the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march. Photo c/o  Hebrew Union College.

Most of the space activists from the 1970’s were academics and artists interested in commercializing their ideas and obtaining tenure in the educational system. Their roles didn’t require real change in order for them to be perceived as being historically successful. They included:

  • Chesley Bonestell (1888-1986), an American painter, designer and illustrator, whose paintings were a major influence on science fiction art and illustration and who helped inspire the American space program. [iv]
  • Freeman Dyson (1923 – ), a theoretical physicist and mathematician, famous for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering, who also worked on the Orion Project, which proposed the possibility of space-flight using nuclear pulse propulsion and advocated space exploration and colonization. [v] 
  • Mark Hopkins (1949 – ), active today as the chairman of the executive committee for the National Space Society (NSS), he began his career during this period by being responsible for most of the early economic studies of space settlements and has been called the “Father of the Space Movement.” [vi]
  • Kathy Keeton (1939 – 1997), the president of Omni Publications who, along with Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione (1930 – 2010) created Omni Magazine, the first of a new generation of mass marketed general science magazines which openly supported space activities and served as a forum to popularize space related developments. [vii]
  • Gerard K. O’Neill (1927 – 1992), an American physicist and space activist who developed the idea of a space habitat design known as the O’Neill cylinder and founded the Space Studies Institute (SSI), an organization devoted to funding research into space manufacturing and colonization. [vii]
  • Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996), the American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and communicator who  hosted the 1980 television program “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” published more than 600 scientific papers and articles during his career and authored, co-authored or edited more than 20 books. In 1980, he helped to form the Planetary Society. [x]

But as “citizens” and “rebels,” the advocates of this era, while providing alternatives to the existing way of doing things, weren’t really going out and building things or providing practical suggestions to those who were. They were academics and artists, fascinated with the concepts surrounding the new ideas and interested in promoting those concepts in the abstract, but without the skill-set to actually build something.

There were no “social change agents” to nurture the emerging public consensus and no “reformers” to take control of the agenda and move the big ideas towards action.

And that, in a nutshell, is why we never moved out into space. Even worse, the 1986 Challenger disaster essentially halted funding on many of the projects near and dear to the space community.

But all was not lost. The “social change agents” and “reformers” who built hardware and helped humanity move our next space age forward, along with a discussion of their historical antecedents, will be the subject of the next article in this series.

Chuck Black.

___________________________________________________________

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Footnotes
[i] Reaching for the High Frontier: The American Pro-Space Movement, 1972-1984” by Michael A. G. Michaud at 
http://www.nss.org:8080/resources/library/spacemovement/index.htm. Last accessed September 17th, 2016. 

[ii] Ibid. 

[iii] As outlined in the October 9th, 2001 Space Daily article, “The Children of Apollo & Visions for the Future,” by Eric Strobel, at http://www.spacedaily.com/news/oped-01c.html,  the “Children of Apollo” are members of the generation growing up during the 1960’s and 1970’s which feel “vaguely cheated that the nation that went from Kitty Hawk to Tranquility Base in a single lifetime seems likely to go no further in their lifetimes.” Last accessed September 16th, 2016. 

[iv] “Chesley Bonestell Artist Biography.” The Nova Space Art website at http://www.novaspaceart.com/Artists/ChesleyBonestell.html. Last accessed September 16th, 2016. 

[v] “Freeman Dyson: The Scientist as Rebel,” The Academy of Achievement website at http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/dys0bio-1. Last accessed September 16th, 2016.  

[vi] “Mark Hopkin Biography,” The National Space Society website at http://www.nss.org/about/bios/hopkins.html. Last accessed September 16th, 2016. 

[vii] “Bob Guccione Biography,” The “Biography” website at http://www.biography.com/people/bob-guccione-273678#synopsis. Last accessed September 16th, 2016.  

[viii] “Gerald K. O’Neill,” The Space Frontier Society website at http://archive.spacefrontier.org/HighFrontier/gkobio.html. Last accessed September 16th, 2016.   

[ix] “Space: The Crucial Frontier – Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy,” by Howard Gluckman. L5 News, April 1981 at http://www.nss.org/settlement/L5news/1981-council.htm. Last accessed September 16th, 2016. 

[x] “The Carl Sagan Portal” at http://www.carlsagan.com/. Last accessed September 16th, 2016.

Last WeekVarying the Characters and Narrative to Move the Story Forward in Part Three of “So You Want to be a Space Advocate.”

Next Week: The Movers and the Shakers, as Part Five of “So You Want to be a Space Advocate” continues!

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William Leitch: Presbyterian Scientist & the Concept of Rocket Spaceflight 1854-64

Posted September 12, 2016 by Chuck Black
          By Brian Orlotti

Cover graphic c/o Apogee Books.
Last year, Canadian author, space historian and Commercial Space blog contributor Robert Godwin released a paper claiming that Ontarian Presbyterian minister William Leitch (1814-1864) was the first trained scientist to apply scientific principles to advocate the rocket as a means of space travel, decades before Robert Goddard and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.
Godwin has now expanded his paper and released it as a book under the title, “William Leitch: Presbyterian Scientist & the Concept of Rocket Spaceflight 1854-64.”
As outlined in the October 4th, 2015 post, “Rocket Spaceflight Accurately Described by Scottish-Canadian Scientist in 1861,” Leitch first published his suggestion that the rocket could be used for spaceflight in an Edinburgh journal in 1861 and also included it in his 1862 book, “God’s Glory in the Heavens.”
But the work fell into the dustbin of history when Leitch died young and the copyright fell into limbo after the bankruptcy of his publisher in 1878.
In the course of his research, Godwin discovered that Leitch’s book had remained in print for over forty years, though his name had been purged from it. In addition, the book’s title was changed at the last minute to remove all references to astronomy, condemning it to 150 years of obscurity in various libraries’ theology sections.
Leitch had studied at the University of Glasgow in the same classroom as William Thomson (aka Lord Kelvin) who did much to unify the emerging discipline of physics into its modern form and even once assisted Kelvin in an electricity experiment. In 1859, he was appointed principal of Queen’s University in Kingston, ON. Leitch died in 1864 and is buried near Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, whom he apparently knew.
The Cataraqui Cemetery National Historic site of Canada, where William Leitch and Sir John A. MacDonald are both buried.  As outlined in volume 3 of the 2016 Queens Alumni Review, under the title, “A historic place of final rest,” the Cataraqui Cemetery has “been the final resting place of many principals, faculty, and friends of the University for more than 135 years.” Photo c/o Kingstonmuseums.ca.
In an email, Godwin encapsulated his new book:

Leitch was a remarkably accomplished person. In the book I take the reader through his entire life, exploring his background as an unconventional example of his profession. He was a Presbyterian minister who loved science. He was a polymath with expertise in botany, geology, medicine, physics, ethics, classics, astronomy, ballistics, biology, divinity and more. He worked with some of the most brilliant minds of the 19th century like Sir David Brewster, Lord Kelvin and John Pringle Nichol. Scotland was ground-zero for the industrial revolution. James Watt who fixed Newcomen’s steam engine worked on the telescopes that Leitch used.

There were a lot of surprises that came out of tracing his life. His extraordinarily unconventional political views. His encounters with some famous players in the American civil war. His family ties to some of the most famous people of his generation. His role in the search for alien life. His insights into things that Einstein would later establish as fact three generations later. His predictions about the nature of our solar system, things that wouldn’t be confirmed for generations.

In a phone interview with the author, Godwin stated that he’d received little criticism or hostility for his findings, although he was challenged by the chairman of the American Astronautical Society’s (AAS) history committee to prove that Leitch had scientific training and wasn’t just “guessing.” Godwin stated  that he welcomed the challenge and used his thoroughly-researched evidence to convince the Chairman.

An illustration from Leitch’s 1862 book “God’s Glory in the Heavens.” Photo c/o The Guardian.

According to Godwin:

He (Leitch) put the pieces together; Newtonian physics (action, reaction) with military ballistics…He was NOT Cyrano De Bergerac. He didn’t have bottles of dew on his belt that carried him up towards the moon.

Godwin’s book weaves many threads together, forming a new patch in the tapestry of spaceflight history. Canadians and space aficionados everywhere would do well to take a look.

To learn more, check out “William Leitch: Presbyterian Scientist & the Concept of Rocket Spaceflight 1854-64,” on the Apogee Books website.

Brian Orlotti.

  ______________________________________________________________

Brian Orlotti is a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

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General

Part Three: So You Want to be a Space Advocate?

Posted September 1, 2016 by Chuck Black
 Varying the Characters and Narrative to Move the Story Forward
                   By Chuck Black

An earlier version of this article was presented at the 65th International Astronautical Congress, which was held in Toronto, Ontario from September 29th – October 3rd, 2014. 

Its thesis is that successful advocacy requires:

  • Strong media skills able to define the problem, craft a compelling narrative and define appropriate solutions.
  • A mechanism to move the narrative forwards by solving the defined problem using those previously identified solutions. 
  • A funding network willing to pay for the costs associated with the campaign. 

The question of whether or not those three conditions apply in our current aerospace and space environment is open for debate.

_________________________________________________________________________________

The only real difference between a storyteller and an advocate (or any other type of sales-person) is that an advocate uses a “call to action” to support the goals of the advocacy and encourage people to move from awareness towards crafting a solution.

But the requirements to facilitate advocacy goals and the tone and texture of the stories needed to move an advocacy campaign forward tend to change in subtle ways over time.

The front cover of “Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements.” Cover c/o New Society Publishers.

One of the best chronicles of these subtle changes is “Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements.” [i]

The book, written by activist Bill Moyer and co-authored by JoAnn McAllister, Mary Lou Finley and Steven Soifer, summarizes theories of social change by using case studies from the anti-nuclear, civil rights, gay and lesbian, breast cancer and other historical global activist movements.

The key to the book is its postulation of an overarching methodology which both describes how social activism works and acts as a score-sheet to define the success of any specific campaign.

Called the Movement Action Plan (MAP), the MAP defines four roles which activists need to play effectively in order to move their activities forward [ii] and eight stages on the road to success which activists need pass in order to progress their social movement [iii].

According to MAP, the four roles an activist needs to cultivate include:

  • The citizen, who articulates a vision of the favored outcome, understands and combats official attempts to discredit the campaign and encourages its legitimacy in the eyes of the general public.
  • The rebel, who puts issues on society’s agenda to highlight the gap between what is and what could be.
  • The social change agent, who nurtures the emerging public consensus growing out of any successful activism campaign, builds communication channels between stakeholders and promotes a long-term perspective of the issues. 
  • The reformer, who uses institutional means of getting real change, leads in building a dialogue with the existing stakeholders and acts as the interface between the advocacy movement and the public.

It’s worth noting that the first two of the roles focus mainly on ideas, while the second two focus on the actions required to turn the ideas into lasting changes.

The MAP also defines eight distinct stages to be passed through in the typical activist campaign. They are:

  • Normal times: Where the problem may or may not exist but action is certainly not on anyone’s agenda and the public is essentially unaware of the issue.
  • An initial attempt to prove the failure of official institutions to deal with the recently noticed problem: At this stage, grassroots opposition attempts to prove that the official institutions/ channels support the status quo, discourage useful change and that this lack of useful change is bad or unproductive, in some way shape or form. 
  • A perception of the worsening of conditions often caused by new evidence of the severity of the problem: At this stage, there is normally rising grassroots discontent with both the situation and the traditional community leaders. Upsetting events normally gain public attention at this stage, often in a way which summarizes, defines and/or encapsulates the problem to the public.
  • The take-off of the issue: This begins at the point where the advocacy issue has grown into the public consciousness and become perceived of as something which must be dealt with. At this point, opposition often crystalizes into a “movement,” with unique terminology understood by both members and by the general public.
  • A perception of failure: This is usually caused by the lack of tangible, overt progress even as a broader consensus begins to emerge.
  • Majority public opinion: This occurs when the movement transforms from protest in crisis to long-term struggle with traditional stakeholders to win public majority approval to change and/or oppose current policies. At this point, the growing movement’s position is increasingly adopted by mainstream society.
  • Achieving alternatives to ameliorate or cure the original problem: At this point, the debate shifts from opposing present policies to the discussion of useful alternatives to adopt. This usually happens amidst a growing public passion for change and the perception among traditional stakeholders that it is less costly to create new policies than continue with the old ones.
  • Continuing the struggle: Now that the paradigm has been successfully created, the activists normally act to entrench, protect and extend any successes that were achieved.

The book also includes sections on democracy, power, power-holder strategy and the typical strategies used by movements advocating for social change. It even compares the MAP strategy to “nine popular models of social movements that are taught at universities.”

This suggests that there are a great many ways to define and categorize the success of activists and movements. [iv] Space activists and advocates would certainly be well served by learning more about them and utilizing their concepts in space focused advocacy campaigns.

Now that we’ve formulated a theoretical base to understand activism, it’s time to move on to some practical examples relevant to space activists. This will be the subject of our next post.

Chuck Black.

___________________________________________________________

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Footnotes
[i] “Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements” by Bill Moyer, with JoAnn McAllister, Mary Lou Finley and Steven Soifer. New Society Publishers, 2001. 

[ii]  Ibid.

[iii] Ibid. 

[iv] Ibid. 

Last Week: Defining Advocacy in Part Two of of “So You Want to be a Space Advocate.”

Next Week: Why the Activism of the 1970’s US Pro-Space Movement Didn’t Work, as Part Four of “So You Want to be a Space Advocate” continues!

Full Story »

 
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Part Two: So You Want to be a Space Advocate?

Posted August 29, 2016 by Chuck Black
Defining Advocacy


                   By Chuck Black
An earlier version of this article was presented at the 65th International Astronautical Congress, which was held in Toronto, Ontario from September 29th – October 3rd, 2014.

It’s thesis is that successful advocacy requires: 

  • Strong media skills able to define the problem, craft a compelling narrative and define appropriate solutions 
  • A mechanism to move the narrative forwards by solving the defined problem using those previously identified solutions.
  • A funding network willing to pay for the costs associated with the campaign.

The question of whether or not those three conditions apply in our current aerospace and space environment is open for debate. 

_________________________________________________________________________________

It’s worth noting that advocacy, a “political process by an individual or group which aims to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions,” is still advocacy whether or not the final goal being worked towards relates to space activism, civil or political rights, environmentalism, building a museum collection or some other outcome. [i]

The methodologies used to “influence public policy and resource allocation decisions,” or set up a new curriculum at a local community college are also more than sufficient to encourage the exploration of the high frontier. Even better, these methodologies are also generally pretty standard and reasonably well understood.

No rocket ships here, but still useful. The cover of “The Most Amazing Online Organizing Guide EVER!” Cover graphic c/o Green Memes.

An example of current advocacy methodologies is “The Most Amazing Online Organizing Guide EVER!” Compiled by Green Memes, a US based environmental justice activist organization, the booklet bills itself as “a practical handbook for those who want to leverage social media for social change.” [ii]

And while there are no rocket ships or references to Buzz Aldrin on the cover, the booklet contains a surprisingly large number of pretty obvious observations and suggestions of use by advocates of any stripe. Examples include:

  • Our objective is building movements for social impact. Clicks, likes, donations, (and) even actual organizations are just means to that end, and it’s the end toward which we’re working.
  • Social change begins with strategy. Rarely in history have movements been truly spontaneous.
  • … nearly always, it’s been the often-unseen strategic work of hundreds or even thousands of individuals. Trying, failing, and trying again, until all of a sudden it seems inevitable.
  • Nor are social networks new, of course — the only difference is that some of these networks are now made visible online. Strategies hashed out in the homes of workers during labor movements, black churches in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, gay bars in LGBT movements, and college campuses in student movement have plenty to say to us today[iv]

But the booklet doesn’t just regurgitate platitudes. It’s thesis is that the first step in any successful advocacy is the crafting a compelling narrative which outlines the problem, drives reactions for change and paves the way for solutions. As outlined in the booklet:

What do you remember about the civil rights movement in the 60s in the South? Really, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? 

Now, I’m going to take a gamble here and say that the first thing you remembered when you read the question above was a story about someone, or a group of people, doing something brave—rather than voter registration statistics, or desegregation rates or the like. I suspect you remember Rosa Parks refusing to give up a seat, students being harassed as they integrated a lunch counter, Freedom Riders making their way across the South, or Martin Luther King Jr. at the pulpit.

Rosa Parks on the bus in 1956, one day after a US Supreme Court ruling desegregating public transportation in Montgomery, AL. As outlined in the December 1st, 2015 CNN post “Remembering Rosa Parks,” she became a symbol of the modern civil rights movement “when she was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama on December 1st, 1955 after refusing to give up her seat in the black section of a city bus to a white passenger.”  Photo c/o CNN.

That’s because stories are the essence of human communication and relationships, containing our collective memory and values. That makes them a core part of movement building.

Personal stories aren’t just how we remember successful social movements —they’re the connective tissue that links a movement together. Stories are both the inspiration that brings people to a movement, and the substance of the relationships that hold people to it once they’ve joined. Telling the stories of the people you work with is one of the most important ways you can use social media to strengthen your organizing.” [v] 

In essence, the narrative is the glue which ties any specific advocacy together into a coherent whole. And space focused activities over the last 50 years have also been crafted into compelling stories. Examples include:

  • 2001: The Heritage and Legacy of the Space Odyssey by Frederick I Ordway III and Robert Godwin – Despite over 30 years of advances in space flight and movie-making, it is still 2001: A Space Odyssey which most fans, film makers and critics use as the yardstick against which all other space films are measured. Take a trip through more than eleven decades of film to learn just how far the movie pushed the state of the art and how it continues to affect both motion pictures and the space program. [vi]
  • An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield – A guide to becoming an astronaut and the fun of living off planet from a man with quite a bit of first hand expertise at doing both. Hadfield shares exhilarating experiences and challenges, from his 144 days on the International Space Station (ISS). [vii]
  • Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program by David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek – Why did a government program whose standard operating procedure had always been secrecy turn its greatest achievement into a communal “brand experience” with top media ratings and high public approval? Read this book and find out. [ix]
Not all story tellers are historians. An example would be American entrepreneur, animator, voice actor and film producer Walt Disney, shown on the left with German/American aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun in an undated 1950’s file photo. Von Braun, along with Disney and others, created a compelling 1950s narrative showing how military rocketry could be re-purposed for exploration, science and the benefit of mankind. In the 1960’s Von Braun went on to build the rockets which landed men on the Moon.
  • Sex and Rockets by John Carter with an introduction by Robert Anton Wilson – For those of us who think rocket science is boring, here’s the incredible but true story of scientist, poet, and self-proclaimed anti-Christ, Jack Parsons, who co-founded the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), led the Agape Lodge of Aleister Crowley‘s Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) and even bore more than a passing resemblance to Iron Man’s father. Scary, scary stuff… [x] 
  • Soviet Space Culture: Cosmic Enthusiasm in Socialist Countries by Eva Maurer, Julia Richers, Carmen Scheide & Monica Rüthers – An interesting historical examination of the Soviet space program as a unique cultural phenomenon, which united communism and religion to the utopian and atheistic during the period from the first Sputnik launch to the mid 1970’s. [xi]

Oddly enough, most of those compelling narratives were written by historians who weren’t so much concerned with changing the future as they were with chronicling the past. But an advocate would want to drive this compelling narrative forward in real time towards real change.

How that happens, will be the subject of the next post.

Chuck Black.

___________________________________________________________

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Footnotes
[i] “The Most Amazing Online Organizing Guide Ever,” Edited by Megan Kelley & Joe Solomon at http://www.salsalabs.com/why-salsa/strategic-best-practices/green-memes-guide. Accessed August 29th, 2016.  

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid. 

[iv] Ibid. 

[v] Ibid.

[vi] “2001: The Heritage and Legacy of the Space Odyssey” by Frederick I Ordway III and Robert Godwin. Griffen Media, 2010. 

[vii] “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth” by Chris Hadfield. Random House of Canada, 2013. 

[viii] “The Atomic Rockets of the Space Patrol website” by Winchell D. Chung et al. at http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/index.php. Accessed August 29th, 2016. 

[ix] “Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program” by David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek. The MIT Press, 2014. 

[x] “Sex and Rockets” by John Carter with an introduction by Robert Anton Wilson. Feral House, 2005. 

[xi] “Soviet Space Culture: Cosmic Enthusiasm in Socialist Countries” by Eva Maurer, Julia Richers, Carmen Scheide & Monica Rüthers. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Last Week: An Introduction to our Changing World as Part One of of “So You Want to be a Space Advocate” begins!

Next Week: Varying the Characters and Narrative to Move the Story Forward as Part Three of “So You Want to be a Space Advocate” continues!

Full Story »

 
General

Part One: So You Want to be a Space Advocate?

Posted August 22, 2016 by Chuck Black

An Introduction to our Changing World

                    By Chuck Black 
An earlier version of this article was presented at the 65th International Astronautical Congress, which was held in Toronto, Ontario from September 29th – October 3rd, 2014.

It’s thesis is that successful advocacy requires: 

  • Strong media skills able to define the problem, craft a compelling narrative and define appropriate solutions 
  • A mechanism to move the narrative forwards by solving the defined problem using those previously identified solutions.
  • A funding network willing to pay for the costs associated with the campaign.

The question of whether or not those three conditions apply in our current aerospace and space environment is open for debate. 

_________________________________________________________________________________

It’s a platitude that space exploration is at a crossroads and politicians are struggling to keep up with the changing situation. 
As outlined in the June 13th, 2016 post,”Government Announces Comprehensive Review of Canadian Science,” Federal innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, the politician responsible for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the National Research Council (NRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and quite a number of other science and technology funding agencies, is currently in the midst of “an independent review of billions of dollars of federal funding for science and academics” which is expected to report “before the end of this year.” [i]
As outlined in the August 3rd, 2016 Toronto Star post, “Federal ministers are hell-bent on consulting you: Paul Wells,” Minister Bains isn’t the only Federal politician interested in riding the current wave of change. As outlined in the post, “if you run into a Liberal MP this summer, you will probably not escape without being asked for your input on something or other.” [ii]

But these constant changes and upheavals are nothing new.

As outlined in the July 21st, 2009 post “Even Werner Von Braun was Wrong Once in a While,” those who led mankind to the Moon forty-five years ago were stubborn individualists and opportunists who embraced risk, endured setbacks, knew failure and were not universally loved or even terribly well respected in life.(iii)

In essence, they disagreed often and made many mistakes, which usually led to more disagreements. This is surprising, especially when you remember that the legacy of the early space age is one of accomplishments, not infighting.

But a legacy of accomplishment might not be an accurate representation of the current generation of space leaders. An example would be the panelists at the “2006 International Astronautical Federation (IAF) Roundtable on Major Space Markets in the Next 20 years and the Corporate Approach for Success.”(iv)

The discussion, held during the 57th International Astronautical Congress in Valencia, Spain from October 2nd – 6th, 2006, was moderated by Virendra Jha (then the VP science, technology and programs for the CSA).

Panelists included Mag Iskander (the executive VP and general manager of space missions for BC based MacDonald Dettwiler), Francois Auque (the CEO of Astrium), Pascale Sourisse (the president and CEO of Alcatel Alenia Space), Dr James Chilton (the VP of Boeing), Nicolay Sevestiyanov, (the president & general designer at ENERGIA) and Professor Sir Martin Sweeting (the CEO of Surrey Satellite Technology).(v)

However, given the pedigree of the panelists, it’s amusing to note how each acts amazed at the things that have happened over the last twenty years, then marvels at how most of the changes were unexpected but then states unequivocally that the market has likely stabilized and will now remain essentially the same with one or two predictable exceptions which are logical progressions of existing trends.(vi)

Of course, those panelists haven’t turned out to be anywhere near correct, despite their vast knowledge and expertise.

But while ten years perhaps provides us with the benefit of hindsight unavailable to the 2006 panel, the changes expected over the next ten years are likely to dwarf those of the previous ten.

So how can space policy experts most effectively advocate their positions and projects in this brave new world of continuous change, ongoing government reviews and commercial constraints?

Chuck Black.

The first step is to learn from the examples and experiences of others. We’ll begin that process in part two of this series.
___________________________________________________________

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Footnotes
[i] “Government Announces Comprehensive Review of Canadian Science,” by Henry Stewart. The Commercial Space blog June 13th, 2016 at http://acuriousguy.blogspot.ca/2016/06/government-announces-comprehensive.html. Accessed August 21st, 2016.

[ii] “Federal ministers are hell-bent on consulting you: Paul Wells,” by Paul Wells. The Toronto Star August 3rd, 2016 at https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/08/03/federal-ministers-are-hell-bent-on-consulting-you-paul-wells.html. Accessed August 21st, 2016. 

[iii] “Even Werner Von Braun was wrong Once in a While,” by Chuck Black. The Commercial Space blog July 21, 2009 at http://acuriousguy.blogspot.ca/2009/07/even-werner-von-braun-was-wrong-once-in.html. Accessed August 21th, 2016. 

[iv] Ibid. 

[v] “2006 IAC: Major space markets in the next 20 years” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tb1BTO2Klp0&feature=relmfu. Accessed August 21th, 2016 

[vi] Ibid.

Next Week: Defining Advocacy as Part Two of “So You Want to be a Space Advocate” continues!

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